Going Green Gets A Start At Payson High School

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Payson High School junior Michelle Daniels discusses where to place recycling receptacles on campus with students in the Go Green Club.

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Michelle Daniels (left) spearheaded the new Go Green Club, which will encourage recycling and environmental education in Payson.

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Students sit in English teacher Windy Jones’ classroom during a recent Go Green Club meeting. The club began in December.

Faced with limited recycling in town, Payson High School’s new Go Green Club will personally transport the plastic and aluminum that accumulates in the school’s new recycling bins on campus to recycling centers down the hill.

Club adviser Windy Jones said her sister attends the University of Arizona, and her parents visit there frequently.

“It’s very grassroots right now,” Jones said about the club, which began over winter break. “It’s still in its infancy.”

About 20 students gathered in Jones’ room before school Friday to discuss where to place two recycling bins, which Waste Management donated. Prospective locations included the quad, which Jones wrote in an e-mail is frequently “overwhelmed with empty plastic bottles.”

Students are planning trips to Payson elementary schools for Earth Day, to talk with students about protecting the environment. The club might also organize a class recycling competition.

“What has impressed me is that the club has been driven by student initiative,” Jones wrote.

Junior Michelle Daniels, who led Friday’s discussion, approached Jones about starting the club. After reading about the threat of global warming, Daniels sought out hometown solutions.

“I was looking around Payson and we don’t have anywhere to recycle,” she said. “I thought starting one for the school would be a really great first step.” Locally, there are limited recycling opportunities — only paper and aluminum cans are accepted at some locations.

Even non-members drop recyclables off to Jones’ room.

The scope of Daniels’ efforts has also expanded outside of Payson. The United Nations Association of the United States of America named her one of 68 semifinalists in an essay contest which asked high school students to answer the question: “What can the U.S. do to help ensure environmental sustainability?”

Daniels created the SAVE Plan — Simplify packaging, Agricultural sustainability, Voice your opinion, and Education.

The plan advocates passing laws to require manufacturers to reduce product packaging, changing fertilizer to reduce the amount of methane cows produce, promoting American support of measures like the Kyoto Protocol, and creating a curriculum like D.A.R.E. — which educates kids about drugs — to educate kids about the environment.

Judges chose among 1,300 entries. Winners will be announced later this month, and prizes include scholarships.

In Payson, Jones said club membership has increased through word-of-mouth.

“I’m just glad to see the high school becoming more green,” Jones wrote.

“It’s nice to see students leading the charge.”

The school also began recycling paper this year of its own volition.

Daniels said students have been collecting cans and bottles at basketball games.

“A lot of people, they think it’s really cool,” she said, adding that it’s still too early to judge student reactions.

“I hope that we’ll be able to get students to start recycling instead of just throwing everything away,” she said.

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